Monday, May 9, 2016

UW President uses false GOP talking points on tenure. Sickening

We already had an idea that UW System President Ray Cross was a lackey for the Walker Administration who deserved the votes of no confidence that faculty at multiple UW campuses have drawn up. But a story in today's Capital Times indicates that Cross's apparently spinelessness may be an act, as instead he seems to be a willing accomplice to the damage being wrought on the UW.
Faculty undermined their position against policy changes by arguing that tenure should guarantee their jobs when a program is discontinued and they are no longer needed in a discipline, Cross wrote in a March 7 email to [UW Regent John] Behling obtained by the Capital Times as part of an open records request.

"That is a "union" argument," Cross said.

Cross compared faculty to railroad brakemen, kept on the job for years after they were no longer needed, he said. "It was for the same reason - a job for life even when that job was no longer necessary."
NO RAY, NO! The "job for life" line is a dead giveaway, as it is the same right-wing BS talking point that Assembly GOP Majority Leader/ UW dropout Jim Steineke tried to sell in his ridiculous ranting about faculty "arrogance" last week. Tenure does not guarantee a job for life, and never has, but those facts don't matter to WisGOP hacks playing the "divide and conquer" game to the rubes in rural areas who aren't familiar with the concept.

Strangely, Cross correctly admits later in the email that tenure also exists to guarantee academic freedom and the exchange of ideas independent of political pressure. But the fact that he makes derogratory references to "brakemen" and "union arguments" gives away where Cross is coming from, and it is telling that he did not demand the UW Board of Regents or the State Legislature to maintain those intellectual freedoms, and limit any tenure restrictions to getting rid of the "job for life" image.

Cross's point about programs being discontinued is the other danger with this new tenure policy- who decides what UW programs aren't worth continuing? It's the same question UW-Madison professor Dave Vanness was asking in the article. Vanness also serves as the president of the Madison chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and he says that his organization's bylaws already allowed for layoffs in extraordinary cases, which makes Cross's "job for life" comment all the more BS.
"When there is a bona fide financial emergency or a program is failing to meet educational quality standards and faculty cannot be retrained or reassigned, then even the AAUP agrees that layoffs can legitimately happen," [Vanness] said.

"Under the new UW tenure policy, a high quality (say, climate science) can be shut down and its faculty laid off so that other programs (say, petroleum engineering) deemed of priority can expand," Vanness said. "Should we shut down African studies to fund accounting? Or how about shutting down philosophy to fund marketing?"
Exactly. Especially when climate science or philosophy or economics classes might not give conclusions and ideas that work with the Koch/ALEC agenda. That's the real reason Cross and the ALEC/GOP crew want to shut down tenure- to weaken the independence of thought and ideas being generated from the UW and the young workers who graduate from it. That is a threat to the Wisconsin business oligarchs that call the shots on the state's economic strategy, as those guys want a low-wage, low-innovation state to keep their high status in place. And they prefer the status to actual competition and excellence.

Now that it has become obvious that UW President Cross and many Regents are nothing more than hit men and women for the anti-public education thugs at the Capitol, it shows that UW-Madison's faculty was right in passing the vote of no confidence last week, and others must follow suit. If Cross has any sense of decency and respect for the UW System, he will step aside and cash in his sizable pension. And if he doesn't, he will prove himself to be the GOP puppet his disgusting, wrong-headed email indicated him to be. Either way, today's revelation makes it all the more critical to remove the GOP element from the Capitol as soon as possible, if you give any type of a damn about the UW System's quality and independence.


  1. The story on Cross's double-cross appears in the WI State Journal now. That story quotes Rep. Murphy of Greenville basically telling faculty who will be laid off to find another job. They will: In a different state. But few will care about this brain drain. When their children leave Wisconsin and never come back, maybe they will. Now, however, it's just a lot of "don't let the door hit you . . . "

    1. And Rep. Murphy's college degree is from......NOWHERE. Just like Steineke and Walker.

      And you why these mediocre white guys resent the UW? It's a reminder of their limitations, and a threat to their career of grifting

  2. Straight out caught lying. Period. But no one will care.

  3. I note that Walker also used the "job for life" lie yesterday, and was trying to drive resentment against UWM profs for making $100K.

    Strangely, Scotty said nothing about the numerous appointees of his that make well over $100K. Funny that